I have a potential client who expressed that they would want me to teach them to cook vegetarian and vegan foods… After scouring the web for inspiration and turning up endless variations of “seitan-stir fry” and “tempeh casserole”, I stumbled across a few unique recipes that would be perfect for me to bring along to my interview. I settled on quinoa cakes and Moroccan chickpea confit, which I thought was a nice showcase of healthy vegetarian cooking and a more decadent vegan dish. Quinoa is a grain that I was a little confused with when I first used it. You cook it like rice, but it looks nothing like rice or any other grain. It has a slight bitter flavor when unseasoned, but that goes away when quinoa is combined with other tasty elements.
The quinoa cakes came out golden brown and fluffy, and the Moroccan chickpea confit had the beautiful smell of toasted cumin and garlic.
- Moroccan Chickpea Confit
- Cloves from 1 head of garlic, separated and peeled
- 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 2½ cups cooked chickpeas or 28-ounce can best-quality chickpeas, drained.
- Kosher salt and whole black peppercorns
- Blended oil (50 percent canola, 50 percent extra-virgin olive), as needed
- QUINOA CAKES
- 2½ cups/12 oz/340 g cooked quinoa, at room temperature. Follow packaging for cooking instructions.
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, plus more if needed
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter
- Moroccan Chickpea Confit
- Using a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed oven-proof pan, combine the garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, and chickpeas. Seasons generously with salt and pepper, and barley cover with blended oil. Cover the pot and cook at 300°F until aromatic but not browned, about 45 minutes. Check on the beans every 10-15 minutes to ensure they don't brown else they may turn chewy.
- Cool the mixture and transfer it, with all the oil, to a sterilized glass container and use as you like. Covering the chickpeas with oil will preserve them for about 3 weeks. Save the oil for other Moroccan dishes, or use as salad dressing.
- Quinoa Cakes
- Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, garlic, and bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. The mixture should be thick and easily form into twelve 1-inch thick cakes. The cakes should be moist and slightly sticky, and should definitely more wet than dry.
- Heat the oil or butter in a large, frying pan on medium-low heat.
- Add 6 of the patties, but don't crowd the pan.
- Cover and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette / balsamic must /creme.
- Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. The quinoa mixture can hold in the fridge if sealed for up to 2 days.